UPDATE – We’ve made a new version of this guide! Follow this link for three ways you might choose to watch Stargate, depending on how you like to binge:
One of the most common questions we get is about the order in which newcomers to the franchise should watch Stargate SG-1, Atlantis, Stargate Universe, the movies — and now the Web series Stargate Origins. You asked for it — now GateWorld is pleased to present our recommended Stargate Viewing Order!
Generally speaking, the continuity between the shows and films matches the order of their original broadcast and DVD release. In order to maintain the highest degree of continuity in your viewing of the Stargate franchise, follow this guide. (Don’t worry — there are no plot spoilers here.)
(1) ‘STARGATE’ THE MOVIE
Ah, there’s no better place to begin than at the beginning. The television series picks up where the Kurt Russell and James Spader flick leaves off. Watch the 1994 film to be introduced to Jack O’Neill, Daniel Jackson, Sha’re (or Sha’uri), Skaara, and the rest.
(2) STARGATE SG-1, SEASONS ONE THROUGH SEVEN
Season One through Season Seven of Stargate SG-1 covers the show’s run from 1997 to 2004, before its spin-off Stargate Atlantis premiered. Starting with the pilot movie “Children of the Gods” (we recommend the Final Cut edition), the story picks up one year after the film.
(3) SG-1 SEASON EIGHT & ATLANTIS SEASON ONE
During the 2004-2005 season, SCI FI Channel paired the two shows on Friday nights and the writers wrote the timeline accordingly. For the most part, the two shows’ continuity remained cleanly separated. (There are only a few passing references, such as in “Prometheus Unbound.”) If you don’t mind going back and forth, be sure to start with SG-1‘s two-parter “New Order” and then watch Atlantis‘s “Rising.” Then alternate, making sure to watch both parts of the SG-1 season finale “Moebius” before “The Siege.”
If you’d rather not alternate between the two series, watch SG-1‘s eighth season first. You can even finish all 10 seasons before starting Atlantis, though there will be the occasional reference to the other show — and one big crossover episode, Season Ten’s “The Pegasus Project.”
(4) SG-1 SEASON NINE & ATLANTIS SEASON TWO
The same goes for the 2005-2006 broadcast season. There are less points of contact in continuity this year, so it’s not as big a deal to watch them alternately or to watch SG-1 first.
(5) SG-1 SEASON TEN & ATLANTIS SEASON THREE
Same for 2006-2007. Stargate SG-1 concluded its television run with “Unending” (leaving the primary storyline from the final two years unfinished). Again, there weren’t a lot of direct points of contact (beside the occasional aside) during this year. The big exception is that crossover episode “The Pegasus Project” (SG-1 Season Ten), which technically ought to be viewed after you pick up the resolution to Atlantis‘s second season cliffhanger with “No Man’s Land.”
(6) STARGATE: THE ARK OF TRUTH
The Ark of Truth is the SG-1 team’s first direct-to-DVD movie, which wraps up the storyline from the last two years of the show. Pick it up after “Unending” — no need to finish the third season of Atlantis first.
(7) ATLANTIS SEASON FOUR
There’s a major cast change with the fourth season of the show, so you’ll want to have watched all of SG-1 and The Ark of Truth before continuing on into this season. (The last two years of Stargate Atlantis ran by itself, after SG-1 was cancelled.)
(8) ATLANTIS SEASON FIVE’S ‘SEARCH AND RESCUE’
The season premiere “Search and Rescue” concludes the Season Four cliffhanger, and ends with another cast change. There’s also a line of dialogue which places it immediately before the second SG-1 movie.
(9) STARGATE: CONTINUUM
Though it is a stand-alone adventure for the team, Stargate: Continuum is set chronologically just after “Search and Rescue.” You’ll see why. Continuum also wraps up another story (that of a recurring villain) from SG-1‘s television run.
(10) ATLANTIS SEASON FIVE
After Continuum, head back to pick up the rest of Atlantis‘s final season, with episodes 2 through 20.
(11) STARGATE UNIVERSE: SEASON ONE
Season One of the third Stargate series picks up soon after the events of the Atlantis finale. There is only one obvious point of connection, putting the premiere “Air” some time after the events of the Atlantis finale.
(12) STARGATE UNIVERSE: SEASON TWO
The second (and final) season of SGU further develops the story arc in important ways. But don’t expect any grand resolutions; the show was cancelled just when things were really getting going. (There have not yet been any announcements about any future continuations of the story in an official, canonical medium.)
(13) STARGATE ORIGINS
The 10-part Web series Stargate Origins is a bit of a wildcard, as the franchise’s first prequel story. It is set in the late 1930s, ten years after the Stargate’s discovery (which is seen briefly in the opening moments of the 1994 feature film). Strictly speaking if you are following the timeline chronologically you could watch it first — even before the movie, which is set in the 1990s. But Origins also presumes a bit of familiarity with the later franchise; so while the story will make sense, if you haven’t seen what comes later you won’t appreciate all the little references and allusions.
Origins was also produced on a modest budget without involvement from the writers of the TV shows. So it’s a bit different in tone and in scope, and we don’t recommend it as the best place for newcomers to embark on the Stargate journey.
Welcome to the world of Stargate! As you enjoy the franchise’s 354 episodes, three movies, and 10-part Web series you can read detailed analyses in GateWorld’s episode guides, and chat with other fans at GateWorld Forum!
We’ve also done season-by-season audio reviews of the shows on the GateWorld Podcast (and for individual episodes starting with Atlantis Season Five) to keep you company while you watch.